Friday, April 12, 2013

Military-Style Boot Camp Instructors Who Kidnapped, Beat Teens Face Criminal Charges

Two boot camp instructors are facing criminal charges after allegedly abusing juveniles participating in the leadership and self-discipline program.

Edgar Alvarado, 36, and Ruben Romero, 21, are charged with abuse crimes that allegedly occurred at the "Recon 180" training facility known as Camp Coulter in the Angeles National Forest, as well as at the company's East L.A. headquarters. A release says the camp "is geared towards instilling leadership and self-discipline for teenagers through a paramilitary structured setting." A former Marine, Alvarado owns the camp, which has been in operation since 2008. Romero works as a camp instructor. The alleged 11 victims—nine males and two females—ranged in age from 12 to 17 and were all considered troubled.

KABC reports that the kids were kidnapped from their homes in the middle of the night and were "hit, kicked and dragged." Some of the kids were hospitalized with serious life-threatening injuries, and one of the females was allegedly sexually abused. The parents consented to the kidnappings, but they reportedly had no idea just how violent the camp would be.

Alvarado's charges involve five alleged victims: three felony counts of child abuse and one felony count each of corporal injury to a child and sexual battery by restraint. One of the two females claims
Alvarado inappropriately touched her.

Romero's charges involve three alleged victims: three misdemeanor counts of battery.

While Alvarado has pleaded not guilty and remains jailed on $405,000 bail, Romero has pleaded not guilty and is free on his own recognizance. Alvarado's next court appearance is set for March 28; Romero's is April 17.

Though previous investigations have been conducted on the camp, no charges have ever been made until now. Detectives believe there may be more victims and have asked anyone with information to call call the sheriff's Special Victims Bureau at (877) 710-LASD.

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